When I first visited Dallas as a kid, I was stunned by its sparkling and soaring skyline.
I never imagined that I would end up calling this city my permanent home — but 2015 marks my eighth year as an official Dallasite. I’d even venture to call myself a local. If you happen to travel towards Dallas sometime in the near future, I suggest that you skip the tourist traps and head to the following locally loved hot spots.
1. For a big time, country style
Never mind that I met my ex-husband at Cowboys Red River — like the classy broad I am — this giant honky-tonk is home to a giant good time. Lace up your boots and step right in for a night of two-stepping with real cowboys. There’s even a disco ball made out of a saddle.
2. For killer barbecue
Image: Dave Hensley/Flickr
Skip the barbecue chains and head to Deep Ellum for real Texas barbecue from Pecan Lodge. This joint is a perennial favorite for the best barbecue in Texas. Just make sure you show up early for lunch, since Pecan Lodge closes for the day when it runs out of meat.
3. For an ice-cold beer
Image: Nicholas Henderson/Flickr
Going for a jog through the middle of Dallas? Make a pit stop at Katy Trail Ice House for a cold beer under the live oaks. Beer is great for exercise, after all.
4. For world-class shopping
Dallas is well-known as a shopper’s dream come true, and for good reason. It is home to stunning boutiques and internationally recognized designers and artists. If you can only visit one shopping location during your visit, I suggest Highland Park Village. You won’t find many deals, but you’ll find a beautiful outdoor center that is rich with high-quality shops and unique finds.
5. For an urban oasis
Image: Colette Ngo Ndjon
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is nothing short of an oasis in the middle of the big city. The gardens are breathtaking and year-round special events are sure to pique your interest, no matter when you’re visiting.
6. For beautiful people
In addition to beautiful shopping, Dallas is known as a home for beautiful people. Check out the sights by hitting Uptown for its nightlife. Hotel ZaZa will not disappoint when it comes to gorgeous people — and the poolside parties in summer are pretty great, too.
7. For respite and a view
Image: Keri Trinkle/Flickr
Need a break from your Dallas adventures? Head to the city center’s Klyde Warren Park for food trucks, music and a view of the famous Dallas skyline. The whole park is contained on a downtown overpass.
8. For legendary Tex-Mex
You have many choices when it comes to great Tex-Mex, but your best choice is El Ranchito in Oak Cliff. The place doesn’t take itself too seriously, the line is always out the door and mariachi music plays at a deafening level.
9. For the love of nature and science
I recently took my daughter and nieces to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and, as they stared at a gemstone display, they all said, “This place is so cool.” It is. And it’s educational.
10. For a dirty dive bar
Deep Ellum is charmingly disgusting, so it’s the place to go for a dirty dive bar. I suggest Adair’s Saloon for live music, graffiti, strong drinks and a piece of Dallas history. The Dixie Chicks, Jack Ingram and Deryl Dodd have all graced Adair’s tiny stage.
11. For local vendors
Image: Steven Legget/Flickr
Finally, peruse the Dallas Farmers Market near Fair Park for fresh food and delightful local wares. If produce isn’t your thing, you can pick up beautiful jewelry and unique pieces that will remind you of your trip to this wild metropolis.
This post was brought to you by Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau.